Crowds queue outside Plymouth shops from 2.15am in bid to grab a bargain
CROWDS queued from 2.15am and traders reported shops were "absolutely packed" as thousands flocked to the city centre to grab a bargain in the Boxing Day sales yesterday.
As stores slashed their prices Drake Circus shopping centre and the city centre stayed busy throughout the day, despite miserable weather.
Kelly Tippett, assistant manager at shoe store Moda in Pelle, said the store had seen a rush of customers. "It has been absolutely mad, very hectic," she said.
The post-Christmas rush came after figures were published showing almost half a million people visited Drake Circus over the last week.
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Centre director Greg Lumley said: "We are very happy with the centre's performance this Christmas season.
"Many of our retailers reported a last-minute surge over the final weekend with popular items such as onesies and One Direction merchandise flying off the shelves."
Speaking yesterday afternoon Kimberley Lakeman, assistant manager at luxury sweet shop Hotel Chocolat, said: "It has been busy all day. It was very busy early on because of the Next sale and it has been steady since then.
"All in all it has been a good Boxing Day."
Moda in Pelle's Kelly Tippett, added: "We have had 90 per cent of our stock on sale, offering up to 50 per cent off.
"We have got quite a few staff in and we have been serving four customers each.
"We were prepared for it to be a busy Boxing Day but it has been even busier than last year."
But Charles Howeson, chairman of the Plymouth Area Business Council, warned that the Christmas boost should not distract from efforts to improve the city's financial fortunes.
He said: "The Christmas snapshot across our retail stores appears to have produced some mixed results, with the larger chains doing better, albeit at the last minute, than the smaller outlets.
"Set against the wider economic backdrop, this should only remind us that during 2013 we are going to have to leave no stone unturned to optimise our chances.
"We need to think strategically in terms of employment and re-investment."
Andrew Donoghue, who owns The Book Cupboard in The Parade, is one of several small independent stores struggling to stay afloat.
He said: "This is usually our busy period but it has been awful. Unless it picks up I will have to close down.
"It's just lack of business because nobody comes down here.
"I sell things online, that's the only thing that has kept me going.
"The book shop business is not exactly the most profitable at the moment."